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LIT 4930: Florida Lit and Culture

Class 9 - Place theory

    Cresswell - Chaps 3-4
    "How the Cubans Stole Miami," Carolina Hospital (FL 77)
    Recommended: Gregory Byrd, "Aesthetics a the Southernmost Point: Towards a Definition of Florida Poetry" (Canvas)
    DUE: Post 5 group A, Response group B

Class Objectives:

    Review our research questions on place construction in Florida
    Discuss place in a mobile world (chapter 3)
    Using theoretical discussion of Harvey, Massey, and May, analyze the meaning of Ybor City
    Analyze construction of Miami in Hospital's poem

Notes and Discussion Questions:

    Cresswell chapter 3: Place in a Mobile World

    Our research questions for this class are:

  • What is our understanding of place in Florida and how is it constructed?
  • How have constructions of place changed over the course of the twentieth century?
  • How do we create place attachment in a culture of high mobility?
  • What role does nature play in Florida places?
    In this chapter, we read about several theories of place that can help you answer these questions about Florida.

    Place, Practice, and Process

    In this section, Cresswell reviews Seamon, Pred, Thrift, Certeau and others, who show us "how place is constituted through reiterative social practice, how place is made and remade on a daily basis" (70)

    Important concepts for you to know include: "place ballet" (64); "Place as historically contingent process" (65); place as "an embodied relationship with the world" (69); third space (69). Paraphrase what these concepts mean to you.

    If you could, how would you describe the experiential character of your place through movement?

    Place, Openness, and Change

    The theories of David Harvey and Doreen Massey introduced here will be developed in more detail in chapter four, but the fundamental premise of these ideas is that rootedness and authenticity are in tension with mobility in place. Cresswell describes our world as increasingly mobile. To what extent is our world mobile? Global? Are these good things or bad?

    William Cronon's examination of Kennecott Alaska "tells us that places need to be understood as sites that are connected to others around the world in constantly evolving networks which are social, cultural, and natural/environmental. Places need to be understood through the paths that lead in and out" (75). How might these insights allow you to analyze the changes in Ybor city?

    The End of Place?

    This section applies particularly well to our third research question. The understanding is that with the increased mobilization of capital, people, and communications, "the meaning that provides the sense of attachment to place has been radically thinned out" (75).

    How does mobility contribute to placelessness (Relph)? To the creation of non-places (Auge)?

    Place, Identity, and Mobility

    Cresswell reviews concepts of mobility that attribute human mobility to wealth and locality to poverty. How does the mobility of the characters in The Truth About Them or the poem "How the Cubans Stole Miami" challenge this?

    In what ways does place still matter in the global, mobile world today?

    Cresswell chapter 4: Reading a Global Sense of Place

    This chapter analyzes the detailed positions on mobility in place by David Harvey, Doreen Massey and John May. Examine the three responses and see if you can apply these (one, two or all) to our understanding of Ybor City.

    Doreen Massey raises inquiries about why people move from place to place and their agency in the move. Think about your movement to or in Florida: How much is it a result of personal agency? How much can you attribute to other factors?

    Massey sees the connections made in place by the mobility and gathering of diverse people a contributing factor to the meaning of place, and she highlights the impact of the diaspora of several peoples including from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. What current world conditions contribute to the local mix of mobile people in Florida?

    Massey and Harvey want to avoid the reactionary approach to place. What is a reactionary approach and why is it problematic?

    Massey labels her concept of place construction, "progressive." "If space is rather a simultaneity of stories-so-far, then places are collection of those stories, articulations within the wider power-geometries of space" (104). If place is also the journeys to and connections from place, a "throwntogetherness," a collection of stories, how does Florida literature become place?

    The brief treatment of May analyzes the problem of fixing one theory of place to a particular place, in this case Stoke Newington. "Rather... we may need to recongize the multiple place identities people now draw upon and consider more carefully the ways in which such identities are constructed."


    The remaining chapters in Cresswell should be reviewed on your own. In particular Chapter 5 will help you with your own research by demonstrating the ways in which place theories can be applied. In particular, I point you to the section on "Place and Architecture" (128) and "Digital Place (144).

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